Summary: Genesis 12:1-9. What exactly did God call Abram to leave when he asked him to leave his home and travel to Canaan? Find out in this look at the beginning of the story of Abraham.
LESSONS FROM THE LIVES OF THE PATRIARCHS
GENESIS PART 2 – POSTDILUVIAN/PATRIARCHAL HISTORY
ABRAHAM: OBEYING THE CALL OF GOD
- Early in his career, someone said that Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame football coach of the Green Bay Packers, knew very little about the game of football. Thomas Edison’s teachers gave up on him and said that “He was too stupid to accomplish anything.” Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before inventing the Model T. Beethoven’s music teacher once said that he had no chance of ever being a successful composer. Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, was cut from his high school varsity basketball team. Albert Einstein performed so poorly in his high school courses that his teachers actually encouraged his parents to pull him out of school. Sometimes the greatest success stories come from the oddest of places.
- Those are all earthly examples of what we see happen on a spiritual level in today’s passage. In Genesis 12 God calls a man that was as unqualified to the earthly eye as anyone could be. He calls this man out of his home and makes a promise to him that would change the world forever. Now it’s been said that God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called. One of the most amazing aspects of God’s relationship with mankind is that he uses imperfect people to accomplish his eternally perfect will. God is not interested in using people who think they have it all together, but rather is interested in using people that he can transform for his glory. Such is the story of Abram in Genesis 12.
- We’ve come to the point in our study of Genesis where we are beginning to look at postdiluvian history or history that occurred after the flood. This time period is also called patriarchal history because it is during this time that the patriarchs (or the male “fathers”) of the Jewish nation lived. Remember that Moses, the author of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, is writing to the nation of Israel to explain to them where they came from, how God formed them, and how God expects them to live. And what a story of origins did Israel have! Let’s look at Genesis 12:1-9:
[READ GENESIS 12:1-9]
- In order to get us up to speed on where we are in the Genesis account, let me summarize what has happened between when the flood ended until now. After the flood, God makes a covenant promise to Noah saying that he will never again destroy the earth with a flood and he assigns the rainbow as the sign of that covenant. Then Moses tells us about Noah’s descendants, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After that there is a short account of the incident at the Tower of Babel, where mankind once again rebels against God, but God keeps his promise not to destroy mankind and instead confuses the one language that everyone was speaking and scatters mankind across the globe. Then the narrative focuses in on Shem’s descendants because Abram, the subject of our story today, comes from the line of Shem.
- The Bible says that Terah, Abram’s father had three sons: Nahor, Haran, and Abram. One of those sons, Haran, dies while Terah is still alive. And to this point the family is living in a city called Ur. But after Haran dies, Terah take his family, leaves Ur, and eventually settles in a city named Haran (not to be confused with his son of the same name.) Scripture then says that Terah died at the age of 205. That is where we pick up the story in Genesis 12:1.
- Now when the Bible says in v.1: Now the LORD said to Abram; that is probably best translated as: Now the LORD had said to Abram because of what Stephen says in Acts 7:2-3. There Stephen tells us that God had called Abram before he and his family moved from Ur to Haran. In fact, that is probably the reason they left Ur. Abram likely shared this call with his family, and together they left their home. But they ended up settling in Haran instead of going to the land of Canaan, where God called Abram to go. (We’ll talk more about why they stopped in a moment) So now that Terah is dead, Abram observes his responsibility to heed his call.
- Let’s talk about what Abram’s life looked like when God called him and see what we can learn from it. To do so we are going to bring in some other Scriptures to get a full picture of the situation. First of all, I want us to notice that:
GOD CALLED ABRAM OUT OF A PAGAN RELIGION